Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fossil Hunting On the Jersey Shore?

Yep! As crazy as that sounds, that's exactly what I've been doing... The past four years we have vacationed in Cape May, New Jersey, as a family. One week in July, every year. And the first two years, my daughter was so little and required so much attention, that I didn't really even collect any seashells, which as many of my friends know, is my big weakness. I am an avid shell collector. 

Well, last year, E was 2-1/2, and finally playing with Nana on her own two legs. And I had a chance to sift through the pebbles and shells along the shore... a couple of things caught my trained eye as possibly organic in origin, though they were currently stones. So I picked them up and put them in my little pile of goodies, consisting mainly of Cape May Diamonds (quartz crystals worn smooth by the sea,) pretty colored stones, jingle shells, scallop shells, other bivalves, and a growing number of "interesting looking" stones. One of them turned out to be a fossilized marine mammal tooth! A mosasaur, to be exact!! I identified it by comparing it to Fossil Guy's photos and descriptions of his less-worn fossils found in New Jersey. So exciting!! (Edit: after putting my finds to The Fossil Forum, I was called out on my "mosasaur tooth" and must bow to the pros on their consensus: It's actually a Rugosa Coral, aka Horn Coral. Thanks, guys!)
Rugosa Coral at right

After I got home, I got out my daughter's little stereoscope to view my finds more closely. That's actually when I realized that I had a lot more fossils than I'd thought... mostly fossilized sea sponges, corals, and bryozoans. But a few other things that I had to research on the web, and discovered were possibly dinosaur vertebrae, based on the pattern of the mineral replacement.  (Edit: the two pieces on the bottom left are oolites.)
Coral fossils and possibly bryozoans

Dinosaur vertebra? (Edit: or honeycomb coral)
So this year, with my daughter actively playing in the water with her Nana, her great aunt, and her dad, I sat an "excavated" the beach for more fossils... and I found a few...

I think these are rugosa corals, or "horn corals" from the Permian Era

No idea what this was!
The photos above are a few of my favorite finds, though I actually have a small container full of what I have determined to be fossils of one kind or another. A lot of sea sponges and corals, for the most part. I also found lovely agates, and a few semi-precious gems, but they are so small and worn, that I just put them all into a little clear bottle, grouped by colors. So pretty! 

I will have to post soon about the other fossils I've found here in Pennsylvania, while hiking near creeks and rivers.... but that's for another day!

I hope you're all well. I know it's been ages since I've posted, and you might not even be out there listening anymore. If you are, Hello! If you're not, I hope to have you visit soon.


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